England’s Buttler left buzzing after 5-0 whitewash
JOS BUTTLER was still buzzing with elation long after his brilliant century had scrambled England to the one-wicket win which completed their historic 5-0 whitewash of Australia.
Without Buttler, on his captain Eoin Morgan’s acknowledgement, England would have had no chance at 114-8 in pursuit of Australia’s under-par 205 all out in the one-day international series finale at Old Trafford.
But the wicketkeeper-batsman simply would not be denied as first he and Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid got England within range in a ninth-wicket stand of 81 – and then he struck a straight six off Marcus Stoinis and the coverdriven four which clinched the deal off the same bowler.
There were some nervous moments, of course, as Buttler (110no) and No 11 Jake Ball took one unexpected single and declined others.
Buttler got it unquestionably right when it mattered most, though, to edge a thrilling contest.
“It’s obviously a great feeling, hitting the winning runs... it’s pure elation, isn’t it?” he asked.
“You know it’s one shot... but that’s probably when you become most flustered, when it’s in touching distance.
“You’ll probably never match that... one (wicket left) and plucking it from nowhere when we didn’t really have the right to win the game.
“Winning games when you didn’t deserve to, they’re almost the more enjoyable ones.”
England put themselves on course for this first whitewash over Australia in any format, dating back through almost 140 years of Ashes rivalry, when Moeen Ali’s career-best 4-46 helped to bowl the tourists out in just 34.4 overs.
But by the time they lurched to 50-5 in response, it looked a long shot. Buttler was full of praise for Rashid, and Ball.
“Great credit to him to come out and face the balls,” he said of the latter.
“He did it beautifully [against Ashton Agar]... fighting a few instincts, I think – he wanted to run down and try and smack it.
“But it’s a tough thing to do, soak up that pressure and deal with that – and a huge feather in his cap to know he’s come through.”
Asked how much faith he had in Ball when he walked out, Buttler added with a smile: “It probably looked like more than I thought I had!
“I think we needed five, and I said to him: ‘If it’s two we’ll run, if it’s one I’ll take the strike – and maybe run at the end of the over’.
“But I smashed it to long-off and didn’t see the guy... and just ran.”
Some of England’s coaching staff, picked up on broadcast cameras, could barely watch at that point.
But Morgan knew the right man was out there.
Asked if anyone else in the team could have won the match as Buttler did, he said: “Probably not.
“To produce an innings like he did... he managed to get us over the line somehow, and when he plays like that he creates a lot of belief in the changing room that rubs off. It’s outstanding.”
The whitewash was lapped up by a sell-out crowd, but appears a mere detail to Morgan’s men.
He added: “The atmosphere in the ground, people were quite passionate and hungry about it.
“But certainly within the changing room... the actual 5-0 is not something we speak about.”
It seemed a formality that the line-up which piled up a worldrecord 481-6 at Trent Bridge on Tuesday, then made light of England’s second-highest successful run chase at Chester-le-Street three days ago, would comfortably come out on top.
That assumption did not last long.
Jason Roy was first to go, for a single in the very first over, after Australia took a chance on the spin of Ashton Agar with the new ball – and the opener gave him the charge, missed and was bowled.
Billy Stanlake then took over from the Statham End, Jonny Bairstow caught-behind and Joe Root edging to slip before captain Eoin Morgan was castled by pace.
If England thought they were in calmer waters once Stanlake’s new-ball spell was done, they had to think again – because Alex KING OF OLD TRAFFORD: Hales chased a wide one and was caught-behind in Kane Richardson’s first over.
Buttler was already batting admirably – but as Richardson returned to take two in two, debutant Sam Curran and Liam Plunkett caught-behind, support remained sadly lacking until Rashid strutted in at No 10.
He stayed put until hoisting Marcus Stoinis to long-leg in the 46th over – but Buttler would not be denied.
Irrespective of what followed, Australia’s innings was manic and flawed after they won the toss in glorious conditions on a quick pitch.
Moeen and then Curran – both with two wickets in three balls – took turns to stop the tourists in their tracks.
Travis Head (56) hit his third successive half-century, but got out frustratingly soon afterwards for the third time too, and D’Arcy Short was left unbeaten three runs short of his maiden ODI 50.
Australia faltered from 60-0 in little more than six overs to 1005 – and they crumbled a second time after Short shared a stand of 59 with Alex Carey.
Head and Aaron Finch hit Curran out of the attack in an early onslaught which threatened to put unaccustomed pressure on the England bowlers, only for the introduction of Moeen to break the opening stand.
Finch edged an attempted pull down on to his leg-stump, and then Stoinis misswept Moeen to short fine-leg for a second-ball duck.
England’s Jos Buttler salutes the fans as he celebrates his 100 against Australia during the One-Day International match at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester. Inset, England’s Eoin Morgan lifts the trophy.